July 04, 2004

Dealing With Conspiracy Theorists

I found this story via Marginal Revolutions. The idea that not only would you refuse vaccines because you think there is an international infidel plot to transmit diseases via vaccination, but also that you don't even quickly arrange for muslim countries to supply your vaccine is simply appalling. But the western reaction in the original article shows its own blind spots.

Polio is very rare in the world today. Vaccinations, which are done worldwide, have managed to nearly eradicate the disease. If the ‘wise’ men of those regions of Nigeria had decided to see sense a long time ago, polio would most probably not exist in Nigeria today. Why didn’t they ask for batches from muslim countries a year ago? Why did they wait so long? Everyone, the WHO, their neighbours, even their own population was begging them to see sense.

Such condemnations will not move muslim conspiracy theorists one inch. What they care about is submitting to Allah. Yet nobody seems to be asking reputable imams to provide a fatwah regarding this case and the liability these people have in accordance with Islamic law. What liability do you have for unnecessarily condemning many children to the life of a cripple or even a cruel death because you let vaccinations cease?

The key point can't be repeated often enough. Talk in the language of your target. If you want strict muslims to be influenced by you, cloak your arguments in the language of faith. Insisting on avoiding religious talk is just a good way of upping the body count.

Posted by TMLutas at July 4, 2004 07:21 PM